News: 27 April 2020

Welcome to 2020’s Keats-Shelley Prize Announcement

Sir Ivor Roberts, KSMA Chairman, addresses 2019's Keats-Shelley Awards Ceremony in London

Welcome to the Keats-Shelley Awards for 2020. The 23rd iteration of the original award, and the 5th year of the Young Romantics Prize, is taking place - this evening at 7pm - in the most unusual of circumstances. They will, we hope, be a two-part event: one virtual and one live. In the autumn we will, if circumstances allow, have a gathering to celebrate the prize-winners. At present, we are limited to announcing the prize-winners and reading/hearing the Judges’ comments.

At the outset, I want to commend everyone who entered. The numbers were again really impressive and the overall standard remarkably high. While we don’t share the Dodo’s belief in Alice in Wonderland that all should have prizes, I do hope that everyone who entered this year will do so next. Reading your entries has been an inspiring experience for the Judges.

And now I’d like to express the warmest of thanks to all the Judges: to our Keats-Shelley panel, Will Kemp and Professor Deryn Rees-Jones (poetry), Professors Sharon Ruston and Simon Bainbridge (essays), and of course our Guest Judge Simon Barnes. Their hard work and commitment was no mean task given the number of entries, and 2020’s unique circumstances. We are much indebted to you.

We also acknowledge with great gratitude those charitable trusts and funds which, once again, have supported the prizes for the Young Romantics. We hope they will feel rewarded by the superb response – the winning entries in both categories are truly memorable.

Our thanks go to The Headley Trust, the PF Charitable Trust, The Golsoncott Foundation, the D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, the John S Cohen Charitable Trust and the Sheila Birkenhead Fund. Routledge (Taylor and Francis Group) has encouraged the Association to renew its initiative for 2021.

Plans are already well advanced for next year’s Prizes, which will participate in the broader Keats-Shelley200 Bicentenary programme that marks the deaths of both John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. KSMA looks forward to the growth in the number of entries being sustained. The prospect of being a Young Romantic has never been more challenging or inspiring.

And now, it is my pleasure to hand over to Simon Barnes. The chorus of birdsong accompanying Simon’s speech provides a fitting soundtrack to this year’s Prize theme of Songbird, which commemorates the composition 200 years ago of PB Shelley’s ‘To a Skylark’ and the publication in book form of John Keats’ ‘Ode to a Nightingale’.

Those of an ornithologically nervous disposition might want to prepare themselves for a noisy pheasant - we hope cheering rather than heckling - at around the 30 second mark.

To watch Simon announce the winners of 2020’s Keats-Shelley and Young Romantics Prizes please click HERE – now!​​​​​​​

Sir Ivor Roberts

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